Danone’s Century of Caring

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Spotlight on Danone

A Greek Physician’s Kindness in 1919 Continues to Inspire the Danone Brand Today

Danone, the Paris-based global food and beverage company, isn’t a certified B corporation—not yet. But to no one’s surprise, it’s on track to become one by 2025. When that happens, Danone will be held to “the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose.” In point of fact, Danone already meets many of those criteria.

Famous for essential dairy and plant-based foods, bottled waters, and specialized nutrition products, the company traces its origins back to 1919, when Greek physician Isaac Carasso began making and distributing yogurt to help children suffering from serious intestinal problems. Over the next century, Danone would grow, diversify and expand geographically, eventually establishing a market presence in some 120 countries. But its mission has never changed: Bringing health through food to as many people as possible.

Nor has that mission ever been more relevant. Since last February, the coronavirus pandemic has brought about a catastrophic food crisis across the US. School closings have deprived disadvantaged children of the subsidized meals they depend on daily; the loss of jobs and income has made it difficult—and, in many cases, impossible—for tens of thousands of families to put food on the table.

Last Spring, as the pandemic intensified, Danone North America donated $1.2 million in cash and $300,000 in products to help feed the needy. The donations went to organizations that could put it to work immediately, like Meals on Wheels and We Don’t Waste. With their vast networks across the US, they provide food access through food banks, local institutions and direct deliveries to families and individuals.

“For many children, no school means no food,” said Judy Campisi, senior director of development for Feeding Westchester, which has used funding and in-kind donations from Danone to ensure that sure children have access to good nutrition even when schools are closed. When Colorado shuttered its public schools, Community Food Share reported the single highest distribution day at its Louisville food bank. The donation from Danone North America “will help ensure we can keep food flowing into the community,” said executive director Kim Ruotsala.

On a global basis, Danone provided €250 million—nearly $300,000—to support small businesses across the company’s entire ecosystem, including farmers, suppliers, and service providers. And it guaranteed wages and employment contracts for all 100,000 employees worldwide through June 30, 2020.

These actions are in keeping with the ethos of a company that has not varied in more than a century. In 2019, Danone North America received a perfect score of 100 on the Corporate Equality Index (CEI), a leading benchmarking survey and report on corporate policies and practices related to LGBTQ workplace equality, administered by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation. As Danone International’s B corp status is five years from formalization, Danone North America has been so designated since 2018 and is today the largest B corp in the world.

Over the past six months, Carpenter Group has profiled a varied roster of companies that have led the way in actively and generously supporting COVID relief, social justice, climate health and environmental sustainability. Danone North America—and, in 2025, Danone S.A.—will be among a handful to earn B corp status, a designation that reflects an exceptional melding of business goals and brand purpose.

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About Brand Acts of Kindness®

Brand Acts of Kindness® is a series from Carpenter Group that spotlights companies across industries that are living their brand values in addressing the unprecedented challenges facing the world today.

The series initially headlined companies assisting healthcare workers and first responders, as well as communities, businesses and families impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. We also highlight brands taking the lead in supporting social and racial justice, LGBTQ rights, sustainability and the environment. Their stories show how innovation, resolve and action, built on a solid value proposition, can both strengthen a brand and help create a better world.

About Carpenter Group

Carpenter Group is an independent, woman-owned strategic branding, messaging and marketing communications firm that has delivered results-driven solutions to financial, professional services and technology firms for 30+ years.

Our broad cross-discipline experience enables us to craft brand messaging and carry it through to the channels that most effectively connect with our clients’ target audience, from editorial content to advertising to event marketing and more.